NEW YORK – Scientists are casting a wide net to find better treatments for the crushing depression and uncontrolled manias of bipolar disorder, and some approaches they’re testing seem pretty surprising.
Like skin patches that prevent seasickness. Or a drug that fights Lou Gehrig’s disease. And then there’s a newly invented device that resembles a hair dryer in a beauty salon.
Some of the strategies were identified by logic, and others by pure chance. Scientists already have evidence that they may someday prove useful against bipolar disorder, also called manic-depression.
Doctors yearn for better therapies to treat the condition, which can rip careers and marriages apart and drive people to suicide. It is so complex and mysterious that researchers haven’t developed a medication specifically for it since lithium, more than half a century ago.
Bipolar disorder appears in various forms and degrees of severity in about one in every 25 American adults at some point in their lives, according to a major study published in May.
The disorder is characterized in part by episodes of mania, which are periods of boosted energy and restlessness that can run for a week or more.